In a future where reanimated human corpses are an invaluable slave-labor force, government agent/hacker Jonah Adams searches for his kidnapped lover and discovers the ghastly secret of the zombie trade.
Nobody uses the z-word in Dallaire’s smart, slick, occasionally overcranked kickoff to a new sci-fi series. The term instead is “shade” for a dead person reanimated by a high-tech government serum and reprogrammed as an obedient, superstrong, and durable (if slowly decomposing) automaton. Due to debt and punitive fines in the community, the “shade trade” creates a hellish new paradigm in which individuals who die owing money can be forcibly revived as ambulatory cadavers to work off their debts for decades, even centuries. And nobody gets hurt…right? Hero Jonah Adams is a somewhat tainted military hacker/commando now working as a “ghoul” for the Incorporeal Revenue Service, reanimating the worst tax debtors and criminals as walking-dead slave laborers. But his disapproving girlfriend, Vanessa, is an activist attorney working to curtail the grisly system. When Vanessa vanishes under ominous circumstances, Adams risks his life (and afterlife) to locate her and penetrate shrouds of secrecy, lethal cybertraps, powerful interplanetary corporations, and treacherous AIs. After a gut-grabbing opener, readers expecting George Romero–style zombie action may be surprised that the expected brain-eating armies of rotting undead are often eclipsed by cyberpunk action and digital avatars casting dangerous computer-code spells. Author Dallaire’s métier is evidently in video game strategy guides, and his debut is more a series of “boss fights” than, say, Blade Runner think pieces.
A compelling, comic-book–ish action-thriller in which life’s new inevitables are death, taxes, and a gruesome post-mortem payment plan.